San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Exhibits
Exhibition Overview
Programs and Activities
Field Guide to local spiders
Teacher's Guide in English
Related Links
SDNHM Entomology Department Historical Highlights
Backyard Monsters

This exhibition closed January 1, 2006.
Buggy FAQ's
Butterfly ID Test
Draw-a-bug activity
  Bug drawings by kids
Buggy FAQ's

Dogface caterpillar photo copyright Bob ParksHow many insects are there in the world? And how many different species of insects are there?

According to Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. E.O. Wilson of Harvard University, there are nearly 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 (10 quintillion) insects in the world. More than one million different species of insects have been identified, but some experts believe that there may be as many as 30 million insect species in the world that have yet to be discovered and identified.

Wasp photo copyright Bob ParksWhat is the largest insect? The smallest?

The University of Florida offers an ever-growing collection of articles documenting insect records in the Book of Insect Records.

Are there any poisonous insects?

There are many insects that deliver a venomous bite, but the harvester ant is considered to be among the most poisonous of all insects. For information on other poisonous insects, visit ThinkQuest's Poisonous Plants and Animals website.

Bee photo copyright Bob ParksWhat is the difference between an insect and a bug?

All bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs. A bug is a specific type of insect. True bugs are part of the order Hemiptera, which includes stink bugs, water striders, and bed bugs.

Are spiders insects?

No, spiders are arachnids. A key difference between insects and spiders is that all insects have six legs, and all spiders have eight.

Does the United States have a national insect?

No, the United States does not have a designated national insect. However, Congress did consider the Monarch butterfly as the national insect, but the legislation did not pass. Some states have "state insects," usually noted on state government web sites.

What are those big green beetles that buzz around San Diego all summer?

From early summer through fall, the erratic and clumsy flight of a large green beetle can be seen throughout the county. This insect is called the green fruit or figeater beetle. See our Field Guide for more about the figeater beetle.

Butterfly photo copyright Bob ParksWhy are some pillbugs cobalt blue rather than black?

The blue color is caused by iridovirus: this disease affects pillbugs in the San Diego area and is being studied by scientists at the Universities of California at Riverside and Berkeley. The blue color is due to the refraction of light from the infected cells. The virus has been named the isopod iridescent virus or IIV.

For more buggy FAQs and photos, visit our Field Guide pages.

This trivia from the Entomological Society of America and the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Photos © Bob Parks.